Here are highlights:
- Squats on the Smith machine. This is a squat you do standing at a machine that has a barbell on a sliding track. The barbell rests on your shoulders, behind your head. On the machine, the bar doesn't give, so it forces the body into disadvantageous biomechanical positions," says exercise physiologist and fitness consultant, Joseph Warpeha. People also tend to put their feet further in front of their bodies when doing squats on the machine, which adds to the problem.
- Any exercise done wearing the wrong shoes. Even if you're doing everything else right, your efforts can be undermined by improper footwear, warns Saremi, a podiatrist and editorial staff member of the Aerobic and Fitness Association of America's American Fitness magazine. Working out with the wrong shoes increases pounding on the joints, and can lead to injuries like plantar fasciitis or tendinitis, she says.
There are more you may be doing so
- Exercises done with the goal of spot reduction. People who do strengthening and toning exercises in an effort to trim fat from a certain area – thighs, hips, stomach, or arms – have the wrong idea. While these exercises can help firm muscles, if the targeted area still carries an extra layer of fat, it won't look much different.
- Using bad form on cardio machines. Walk into any gym and you'll see some people sweating through their treadmill, elliptical, or stair-climber workouts with their bodies hunched over and a death grip on the handrails. Use a natural gait, says Scott Danberg, MS, director of sp and fitness for Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa in Aventura, Fla. And "Don't hold the handrails because it breaks the natural biomechanics of the body. We don't go through life holding on to something."
- Always lifting with a weight belt. Bodybuilders have long used these belts to provide low back and abdominal support when lifting heavy weights. But now they seem to be standard equipment even for many occasional weightlifters. Unless you have a back injury or another medical reason to use the belt, says Warpeha, the level at which the average person works doesn't require a weight belt. And it can do more harm than good.
Luckily I don't do any of these. What about you guys?